What a game! Can you believe they pulled that one out? The most crucial sequence of the game came when Mike Jones turned the ball over, and the Tarheels were heading for an uncontested layup. The layup was missed, and Jones promptly drained a three cutting the lead to seven. That was a five point swing and it was all Terps the rest of the way.
A collective mea culpa is in order. Gary Williams, I doubted you. We all doubted you. Losing has a way of doing that to a fan base. Gary’s Terps completed an improbable ressurrection and Gary above all and should be recognized. He is the best coach in the history of the University and will be in Springfield one day. In no small part due to what he has acheived this year.
These kids have been left for dead twice. For the seniors, it was missing the tournament for two straight years. And then most recently, this January. The Terps were 2-5 in conference play. Now they are 8-6!! Who can believe that?
The first four games of this run were sparked by the play of the underclassmen. James Gist, Grevis Vasquez, and Eric Hayes were turning heads. The Sun, The Post, even Jay Bilas were writing about them.
Tonight it was the seniors. DJ played the game of his career. 27 points on 12-18 shooting. Jones played the way he should have been playing for the last 4 years (He got a ton of open looks coming off screens). Ibekwe committed his required three stupid fouls, but played great defense against Hansborough down the stretch and rebounded the ball well.
Vasquez and Hayes played poorly, but the seniors picked them up. It was a team effort. This team never gives up. Gary has taken two freshman and a JC transfer and molded them with a star-crossed upper class. Few coaches can acheive that kind of balance and commitment to unselfish play.
I think Gary Williams warrants consideration for ACC Coach of the Year. If the Terps pull this off and win out, he gets the nod.
Something special is happening in College Park. Many Terp fans will be reminded of the teams’ Final Four run in 2001. Left for dead after the Duke (gone in 53 seconds) and Florida State losses; the Terps miraculously rebounded and made it to the grand stage.
Can this team replicate that? That may not be in the cards for this team, but who cares? These players have given their fans a gift. The gift of an unexpected run to glory. For that, I am grateful.
Duke is on Wednesday. Who can wait?